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Introducing the Queen of Pop

Page 10 of 11

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Joseph Anthony Baker

ALBUM REVIEWS

While we're looking at more subjective criteria like awards, let's look at the most subjective ranking of all: critical acclaim. We blended together the contenders' average album rating at Rolling Stone with their career average ratings at Metacritic, with slightly more emphasis on the former (hey, it's our survey). Here are the results; ratings are out of 200 points total.

Finally, a strong showing for Robyn! Critics love the Swedish pop doyenne, who almost tops the survey thanks to strong ratings for her 2010 Body Talk album series.

Interestingly, 32-year-old Robyn scored the earliest Top 10 singles of any woman in our survey, making the upper reaches of the Hot 100 back in 1997-98 with "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love." Those were, sadly, her last U.S. Top 10s. Robyn's modest American album sales and dearth of U.S. radio play over the last decade hurt her on most of our surveys of 2009-11. We included her anyway, in general tribute to her awesomeness and our desire to make her an unofficial, lowercase queen of pop.

Robyn's 'Call Your Girlfriend' Video

There are other surprises on the critics' survey – not least the fact that the second-youngest starlet, Taylor Swift, is the most acclaimed. (On the other hand, the very youngest, Miley Cyrus, falls near the bottom.)

Shakira takes third place again, thanks in part to the four-star rating earned by her underappreciated 2009 She Wolf disc. Her outranking of Lady Gaga among critics is something of a fluke, likely brought on by the impassioned pro-and-con debate Gaga inspires.

Edging into the top five is 2011's chart goddess, Adele. Given the acclaim for her 21 album, it's a bit surprising she didn't do even better. But then, most critics reviewed the album before she became a capital-P Phenomenon.

NEXT: The Master Ranking

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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